Monday, July 13, 2009

The Old Snake Hole - Dundalk Bathing Beach - Merritt Beach

Photography by David Robert Crews

"Generations of fun at the Snakehole" is the theme of the Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society float. The Old Snakehole was where Merritt Point Park is today; When it first became a local swimmin' hole, there were so many snakes living in and around it that it was nicknamed "The Old Snakehole; then it was turned into commercial venture named Dundalk Bathing Beach (residents living across the water from it called it "the death hole", due to too many drownings); then Baltimore County turned it into Merritt Beach. The park is located on a beautiful, comfortable, tree shaded peninsula that juts out into Bullneck Creek and sits down at the end of Dunmanway, in Dundalk, Md.. There is no longer any legal, or sensible, swimming done at Merritt Park, due to water pollution, which is mostly from the Bethlehem Steel Mill over on Sparrows Point.

In my father's time, as a young man, was when it was The Old Snakehole; and so it is to many real old timers today. Unfortunately, for outdoorsy me, by the time that my family moved to the 7600 block of Dunmanway in 1955, when I was 5 yrs old, with our new home being situated just a half a block up from what was then Dundalk Bathing Beach, there weren't no snakes to be found in or around The Old Snakehole no mo'! Water pollution had drove them away.

Fortunately, though, during the past decade or so, a few snakes have returned to give me and some of my younger relatives a thrill when we go walking along the shoreline of Merritt Park and see a snake or two enjoying less polluted lives there.

Due to an unacceptable number of drownings and other problems, around the time I was 10 yrs old, Baltimore County took over the Dundalk Bathing Beach, made it a whole lot safer and saner, and renamed it Merritt Beach. From 1960 to '64, I took four summer courses of Red Cross Swimming Lessons there and eventually learned how to 'pick up' girls "down The Beach". But, in 1965, The Beach was closed due to horrendous water pollution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can remember going to Merrit Beach as a little boy. My name is Chuck Insinga. Those were great times.